Congressional candidate calls late Sen. Inouye 'an accused serial rapist'

Rep. Kaniela Ing (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
Rep. Kaniela Ing (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Congressional candidate enraged members of Hawaii's Democratic party on Friday with a series of explosive tweets that called the late Sen. Daniel Inouye "an accused serial rapist" and equated him to the infamous Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein.

State Rep. Kaniela Ing also used the social media platform to question the renaming of the Honolulu's primary airport as the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

"In order for sexual violence to end, men need to know they can no longer get away with it. But when we name an airport after an accused serial rapist, we show them that they can. #TimesUpDanInouye," wrote Rep. Ing on his Twitter account.

In another post, Ing wrote: "We have to talk about Inouye. He was my hero growing up, so it's hard. But he's our Weinstein. Esp. now that rape accusations are emerging from decades ago. Memorializing him has a chilling effect for victims to come out against their abusers."

Ing told Hawaii News Now he felt compelled to speak out because of the #MeToo movement and Thursday's celebration of International Women's Day.

"I think that's just fact, that he (Inouye) is an alleged rapist who is alleged of committing these very violent sexual acts against women," said Ing.

Inouye was accused by his hairdresser of pressuring her to have sex with him in 1992 – allegations that the senator vehemently denied. The story surfaced again recently as a result of the #MeToo movement; Ing denies that he's speaking out for political points or media attention.

"I've been told not to say anything. Politically, it can really damage me. I have nothing to gain, everything to lose. If men aren't speaking up, especially men in power, then we are just part of the problem," he said.

The director of the Daniel K. Inouye Institute in Honolulu issued the following statement to Hawaii News Now in response to Ing's series of tweets:

“Senator Daniel K. Inouye passed away more than 5 years ago. It is incredibly mean spirited to accuse him of a crime when he is not here to defend himself. It is unfortunate that Mr. Ing would attempt to smear the Senator and his family’s name to attract attention to his congressional campaign. This is not conduct becoming of a member of Congress.”

Ing, who has represented the Kihei and Makena areas of Maui in the state House since 2012, acknowledges the iconic politician inspired him to get into government – and that he voted in favor of the resolution to rename Honolulu International Airport after him. Ing says he made that vote before he knew about the old allegations against Inouye.

Ing's opponents for Congress, Lt. Governor Doug Chin and State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and Councilman Ernie Martin had no comment on the situation, but Martin did tweet, "It is truly unfortunate one of my opponents borrowed a tactic from @realDonaldTrump and took to Twitter to accuse the late Senator of a crime to score political points. Ing and his team didn't have the courage to confront the Senator when he was alive." Other supporters of Inouye told Hawaii News Now they were privately disgusted and angered by Ing's tweets but unwilling to speak publicly about them.

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